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Don Stewart :: How Does a Person Achieve Salvation in Islam?

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How Does a Person Achieve Salvation in Islam?

Islam – Question 13

The major beliefs of Christianity are at odds with the central beliefs of Islam. One of their main differences concerns the doctrine of salvation. The Bible says that a person is saved from their sins by trusting in Jesus Christ alone. Islam, on the other hand, teaches a different way to deal with the sin problem. We can make the following comparisons.

1. Salvation From Sin Is Not Necessary In Islam

It is important to realize that Islam does not believe it is necessary for a person to be saved from their sins. This is one of the main differences between it and Christianity. There are a number of reasons as to why this is so.

2. Islam Does Not Believe in Original Sin

To begin with, Islam does not accept the doctrine of original sin. Though humans are imperfect, they are not fallen through original sin. Islam teaches that Adam and Eve did not directly disobey God but rather forgot His commandment not to eat from the forbidden tree. After Adam sinned, God promised him “guidance,” and assured him he had “nothing to fear” provided he followed that guidance

3. The Fall Occurred in Heaven, Not Earth

According to Islam, the fall occurred not on earth in the Garden of Eden, but actually in heaven. There was no earthly fall of humanity, no original sin.

4. Jesus’ Death on the Cross Was Not Necessary for Salvation

Because humanity is not in a fallen, sinful state, there was no need for a Savior. Therefore, there it was not necessary for Jesus Christ to die for the sins of the world. Consequently, Islam rejects the idea that Jesus death had any significance whatsoever. On the contrary, they do not believe that it was Jesus who died upon the cross!

5. Salvation, as Islam Understands It, Is Based upon a Person’s Good Works Outweighing Their Bad

Since Muslims do not recognize original sin, they see no need for salvation in the Christian sense. There is nothing to be saved from. Consequently, if there was no original sin, there is no need for a Savior. Salvation, in Islam, is based upon the deeds of a person. The Quran says,

They whose balances shall be heavy shall be blest. But they whose balances shall be light, they shall lose their soul, abiding in hell forever (Surah 13:102-104).

In Islam, people are saved by the will of Allah through obedience to his law, the Shari’ah. Consequently, in Islam, a person is to live a good life, pleasing God in all that they do. They are to submit to him and follow his commandments. Religion, to the Muslim, does not mean salvation from sin. Instead, it means following the right path, or the Shariah which mapped out by Islamic law. Salvation in Islam is not understood in the same way as salvation in Christianity.

6. The Unpardonable Sin (Shirk) Is Saying Allah Has Equals

There is such a thing as an unpardonable sin in Islam. It is called shirk. This is a denial of the unity of Allah. Specifically, God cannot be three and one at the same time. Therefore, anyone who holds to the doctrine of the Trinity commits the unpardonable sin.

7. There Is No Assurance of Salvation in This Life

Islam cannot offer anyone assurance of salvation in this life. It is only at the Judgment Day that people will discover whether they have been accepted by Allah. This of course, means that nobody can have any real security in this life as to where they will be in the next.

8. There Is No Forgiveness for Personal Sin in Islam

The Quran does not have much to say about the topic of forgiveness. Forgiveness is something that Allah gives as he wishes. The Quran says,

(As for) those who disbelieve, they shall have a severe punishment, and (as for) those who believe and do good, they shall have forgiveness and a great reward. (Surah 35:7)

There is no offer of forgiveness based upon repentance. The Quran says elsewhere,

Surely Allah does not forgive that anything should be associated with Him, and forgives what is besides that to whomsoever He pleases; and whoever associates anything with Allah, he devises indeed a great sin (Surah 4:48).

Forgiveness is not something that is offered to everyone in Islam. Only those whom Allah is pleased to forgive can be forgiven.

The Christian Response

Christians have the following response to the beliefs of Islam.

1. The Bible Teaches the Doctrine of Original Sin

Contrary to Islam, the Bible teaches the doctrine of original sin. Adam and Eve were actual characters who were placed in a perfect environment. Their sin caused separation between them and God. This sinful nature has been passed on to all of us. Each human being, born with their sin, is born separated from God. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Rome explaining this important truth. He stated,

Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned... (Romans 5:12 RSV)

The reality of original sin is clearly taught in the Bible. Indeed, the rebellion of Adam of Eve brought sin into the world which was passed on to all of us.

2. The Bible Teaches Original Sin Occurred Here on the Earth

Scripture says that original sin is a reality. Moreover, it took place here upon the earth in the Garden of Eden.

Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he placed the man he had created. (Genesis 2:8 NLT)

The Bible teaches that Eden was an actual place on the newly created earth. Scripture gives known geographical references to identify the site. It is always treated in the Bible as a definite place which was populated with two real human beings: Adam and Eve.

It was in this garden where Adam and Eve sinned against God. Their sin separated humanity from God. This brought about the need for a Savior.

3. Salvation from Sin Is Absolutely Necessary

The Bible could not be clearer on the matter. Salvation from sin is absolutely necessary. Every human being is born with a sin nature that causes us to disobey God. By nature, we are sinners. We need to be saved from the penalty of sin.

The Bible says that all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory or His perfect standard. Paul wrote the following to the Romans.

...since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God... (Romans 3:23 RSV)

This includes everyone. Paul also wrote about sin and its wages.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 NRSV)

The fact that all of us are in a sinful state shows that we need a Savior.

4. The Bible Says Good Works Cannot Please God

All of us have fallen short of God’s perfect standard. This means that all of us, no matter who we are, need a Savior. Our good works cannot achieve salvation for us. This is taught in both testaments. We read about what the Lord thinks of our good works from the prophet Isaiah.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6 NIV)

The New Living Translation says,

We are all infected and impure with sin. When we proudly display our righteous deeds, we find they are but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall. And our sins, like the wind, sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6 NLT)

Paul wrote the following to Titus.

He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5 NLT).

The Bible says that our good works cannot please God. We need a Savior. Jesus Christ is the one who died to save us from our sins. We must accept the forgiveness He offers by faith because we cannot earn our salvation. The Bible is clear on this issue.

Islam rejects the salvation that is offered by Jesus Christ. They do not believe that He is the one way to the one God because they do not believe salvation from sin is necessary.

5. The Unpardonable Sin Is Rejecting Jesus

Sin can be forgiven. In fact, there is only sin God will not forgive is the rejection of Jesus Christ. Jesus said,

“I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.” (John 8:24 NRSV)

Unless a person believes in Jesus Christ, there is no hope for them whatsoever. We read in John’s Gospel how the world is divided into two classes of people, the saved and the lost.

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36 NASB)

Those who have believed in Christ are saved while those who reject Him are lost. There is no third category.

6. One Can Know That They Have Eternal Life

Believers can also know whether of not they have eternal life. In his first letter to the believers, John wrote,

So whoever has God’s Son has life; whoever does not have his Son does not have life. I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. (1 John 5:12, 13 NLT)

There is no hope for those who reject Jesus as their Savior. None whatsoever.

As is true with all other crucial beliefs, Islam and Christianity are at odds. Therefore, both of them cannot be true at the same time. Somebody must have the wrong doctrine about salvation and the need for it.

Summary – Question 13
How Does a Person Achieve Salvation in Islam?

In Islam, salvation from sin is not necessary. This is because they deny the doctrine of original sin. Indeed, they do not believe that the sin of Adam and Eve affected the entire human race. In Islam, humans are not sinners in the biblical sense. Thus, they do not believe that humanity is in need of a Savior. Salvation, therefore, has a different meaning to the Muslim than to the Christian. It is not the salvation from sins but rather the need to submit to the will of Allah. This is how they understand the meaning of salvation.

Islam’s way of salvation from sin consists of works/righteousness. It is living a life that is in total submission to Allah and his commandments. Then, at judgment day, if the good works have outweighed the bad, then Allah will accept the person into heaven.

The Bible teaches something totally different. Original sin is a reality. The Bible teaches that God created two actual people, Adam and Eve, and placed them in a real place, Eden. At that time, He gave them specific commandments and told them the consequences for disobedience. Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and to bring sin into our world.

Humanity now has a fallen nature due to sin. Because our sin has separated us from God we need a Savior. Since God demands a standard of perfection, we can do absolutely nothing to please Him. This is the reason Jesus Christ came to earth, to save us from our sins. All of our good works are not sufficient to save ourselves.

Therefore, Christianity stresses right belief, not so much right works. While it is important for a believer to live a life like Christ, this has nothing to do with their standing before God. A person is saved by believing in Jesus.

Thus, Islam and Christianity have completely different views of what it means to be saved. Consequently, one of these religions must have the wrong belief on this subject.

How Does Islam Understand the Death and Resurrection of Jesus? ← Prior Section
Is the God of Islam Personally Knowable? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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